Austrian textile sales dropped 5.9 per cent in the first six months of 2003 to 1.467 billion euros according to the industry's association within the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

Exports, which generate 80 per cent of the total sales, fell by 5.8 per cent.

The number of employees in the industry fell by 8.4 per cent in the first half to 17,859.

Spinning mills cut around 10 per cent of their workforce and knitting mills lowered their staff by 6.0 per cent. However, more young people are thought to be entering the industry to maintain the growing number of computer-controlled machines.